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Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Wilson in San Francisco, California

September 19, 1990

Thank you, Pete, and thank all of you. It really is great to be back in California, united with all of you for such a good cause.

You know, when they called about this fundraiser, they said to me, "It would be a big boost if this country's most famous Republican came here to help out." I replied, "Fine. What time do you want Millie to be there?" [Laughter]

Which brings me to the fact that Barbara is not here. And she sends her love. She is as committed as I am to seeing Pete and Gayle Wilson be the first family -- succeeding a wonderful first family -- but to be the first family of this great State. She sends her love and affection. And I expect she'll be out here campaigning for you.

To my friend -- our friend -- George Deukmejian, thanks for another welcome here to your State. I can think of a handful of people to whom I especially owe this challenge of being President of the United States, and certainly George Deukmejian, who helped me early on -- his name comes to mind. It's great that you're here once again, unselfishly helping the man that now you want to see be your successor. I'm proud of you. What a record you've set for this State. What a terrific act to follow.

I want to echo what both George and Pete said. Looking around, I see lots of reasons why the California GOP is going to be so strong in November -- the whole ticket concept, the rest of the ticket -- Thomas Hayes, your current treasurer; Marian Bergeson, right here, candidate for Lieutenant Governor; Joan Flores for secretary of state; and Matt Fong for controller; as well as our congressional candidate who's with us today, Alan Nichols. And a special thanks to Frank Visco, our State chairman, who's doing an outstanding job for the State party -- a thankless job, but he's doing it very, very well.

And then those who have done and continue to do the heavy lifting around here on making these events so successful: Katie Boyd, Gene Trefethen, and my old friend Ben Biaggini. What a wonderful job you all have done pulling this marvelous event together -- twice, I might say.

You have to agree, there's a very great and formidable woman involved in this gubernatorial race, but of course, Gayle Wilson is too modest to admit it. And I know it's true. And, Gayle, good luck to you, and thanks for all you're doing on the campaign trail.

And one other with me here today and traveling with me through southern California and here is our brilliant and hard-working leader in the fierce war -- national war -- against drugs. And I'm talking about our drug czar down here, Bill Bennett. He and I, a year after the national drug strategy was announced, made a report to the American people a few days ago. And I think it is fair to say that there is reason now to be optimistic about this war on drugs. A lot of that stems from the dedication of Bill Bennett and his able team.

And also -- I'm remiss here -- I should thank the reverend. Father, thank you for that prayer at the outset of this meeting. And of course, to see my old friend, a true hero, Admiral Jim Stockdale -- I'm just delighted to see you again, sir. Your patriotism, your love of country shines through today just as it did when you were held as a prisoner those many years ago.

I had some doubts about coming back to California. Our latest Agriculture Department figures show that your State is the leading producer of broccoli. [Laughter] And that sort of gives new meaning to this Big Green movement that we're hearing all about, you know. [Laughter]

But here in San Francisco, you've got some fantastic champions -- your 49ers. But we're all here today to show the respect and friendship and confidence that we feel for another champion -- a champion of the environment, a champion for the victims of crime, a champion for the hard-working taxpayer, a champion of the American vision. The champ: Pete Wilson.

Here's what some say about him. President Reagan calls him principled. George Deukmejian calls him experienced. Congressman Campbell calls him dedicated. Congressman Lewis calls him thoughtful. And even his opponents call him wonderful. [Laughter] And as for me, I plan to call him Governor.

Because as we look ahead to the year 2010, when your State's population could soar from 30 to 40 million, we realize that this State needs a Governor committed to the quality of life issues: protecting our natural heritage, fighting crime and drugs, ensuring economic security, creating more jobs and opportunities. That person is, of course, the one we're all here to support: Pete Wilson.

It was important to have Pete in the Senate, and it's now vitally important to have him in Sacramento. To begin with, his brand of environmental activism is the kind California needs. You know, in this area, as in all areas of his commitment, he holds a position of conviction, not convenience. He wrote the first coastal protection act before the environmental movement even began, and he's long fought for clean air -- to remove toxic emissions and smog and acid rain from our skies.

Clean air has been one of our administration's top priorities, as he said a minute ago. And so, let me take this opportunity to urge the Congress to send me a clean air bill I can sign. You know, I sent Congress a comprehensive bill more than a year ago, and I negotiated an agreement with Pete's colleagues in the Senate. But I'm still waiting for Congress to send me a solid clean air bill. We must see balanced, rational clean air legislation enacted this year because it's one of the most important endowments we can make to protect the ecology of our nation and, indeed, of the entire world.

I think of how the late photographer Ansel Adams described California beauty: "It's always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space." Well, Pete will preserve that for our children and our children's children.

These future generations also need the legacy of a strong economy led by a Governor with a truly exceptional fiscal record. Pete will give them that. After all, not only did he balance 11 straight budgets as mayor, he also received the Watchdog of the Treasury award in Washington for his antispending role every single year that he has been in the United States Senate.

No domestic issue has been on our minds of late more than our economy. And it remains an absolutely critical imperative that we reach a bipartisan agreement on this budget deficit and reach it immediately.

When I spoke last week to the Congress, I said I wanted to be able to tell the American people that we've truly solved our deficit problem. But I added, in order for me to do that, there were several tests that the budget agreement would have to meet.

First, it must include the measures that I spelled out to increase economic growth and reduce dependence on foreign oil. And second, it must be fair to all programs and all people. And third, it must address the growth of government's hidden liabilities. And fourth, it must reform the budget process itself, and it must be real. And finally, it must avoid anything that would threaten economic growth or return us to the days of punishing income tax rates.

And I want very much to stand in front of the American people and tell you that the negotiators have come up with an agreement that meets these tests. And I want to tell you that the agreement reflects not only the improvement in East-West relations but also our broader responsibilities to deal with the continuing risks of outlaw actions and regional conflict. And I really hope we will see this agreement soon. I look forward to saying to America: Together, let us all work for the promise of an exciting and strong new future that's now within our grasp.

And there's one other subject, of course, that's on everyone's mind today that I want to talk about: our commitment to the situation in the Persian Gulf. And this is something Pete, a former military man, understands firsthand. Time and circumstances have proven him farsighted. Pete Wilson has always eloquently supported the utterly essential need for a strong defense.

Six weeks ago we sent our troops half a world away because we were compelled by the moral compass that guides our nation. As Americans, we could not ignore this brutally aggressive act against international law and order, and nor could the rest of the civilized world. The unity of outrage across the globe, the depth of support in the Gulf, and the ferocity of condemnation in the United Nations are unprecedented.

And now Saddam Hussein has been given notice by the extraordinary joint declaration that President Gorbachev and I signed in Helsinki [September 9]. It is an absolutely unparalleled message of solidarity, a clarion call for Iraq to comply immediately and completely with the five resolutions that had been so urgently ordered by the United Nations Security Council. And it heralds a new era for our world: the Soviet Union and the United States, standing together in vigorous condemnation of an outrageous aggression.

What a dramatic legacy for our children to inherit, this stunning new partnership of nations. Ours is a generation to finally see the emergence of promising, exciting new world order which we've sought for generations. And we are witness to the first demonstration of this new partnership for peace: a united world response to Iraq's aggressive ambition.

And so, the U.N. and the United States and the Soviet Union and countries across the globe have issued with one voice these unequivocal demands: One, Iraq must withdraw totally and immediately from Kuwait. Two, Iraq must restore Kuwait's legitimate government. And three, Iraq must free all hostages in both countries. Humanity itself will tolerate nothing less.

If Iraq does not meet these nonnegotiable conditions, then its isolation will not end. And we are, as I have said before, prepared to take additional steps if sanctions and the quest for a political resolution do not work.

In the meantime, action through diplomatic channels continues. Just this past weekend, the U.N. Security Council passed its seventh resolution -- in this case, condemning Iraq for its illegal treatment of foreign diplomats. And last Thursday the United Nations, with our support, passed Security Council Resolution 667, establishing a framework so that food can be delivered under close supervision to Iraq and Kuwait, for humanitarian reasons require this. And this will provide a fair procedure for allowing food to reach civilians in need -- innocent children, mothers, the sick, and the elderly.

And on Friday, I sent to Congress a request that will provide the legal mechanism for the United States to share the extraordinary burden of our presence in the Gulf with our friends and allies. It is important that a considerable part of this effort be borne by those being defended and by those benefiting from the free flow of oil. I am gratified at the international willingness to help. You know, the Arab response has been extraordinary. And last week alone, Prime Minister Kaifu pledged $4 billion on behalf of Japan, and Germany agreed to contribute $2 billion plus transport ships and planes.

But we can't think about the Persian Gulf just on these statistics. We can't think about it without remembering our young men and women there, joined by brave compatriots of armed forces from countries spanning four continents, all standing firm and unyielding in the distant desert sands.

Young Americans like 18-year-old Michael Pigeon, of Detroit, who wanted to join the Marines here in California in order to serve his country in the Gulf. But he wasn't accepted because he was over the weight limit. Here was a young man who yearned so desperately to defend American values that mean everything to him that he trekked the 2,500 miles from his home in order to reach his dream and his goal. And not only did he make it to the San Diego boot camp but he lost the weight along the way. [Laughter] And today he's on his way to making a proud marine. And he points out now that marching in combat boots will be no problem for him. [Laughter] Gives a new meaning to "I'd walk a mile for a camel." [Laughter] Mike, I knew it was risky. [Laughter] No, but his kind of -- [laughter] -- but Mike's kind of patriotic self-sacrifice reflects the incredible spirit of the American people, splendid Americans from children to great-grandmothers. And they give our brave young service men and women loving support and proud resolve.

It's touching to hear of the grassroots efforts swelling from coast to coast. Radio stations volunteering to tape family messages to send to the soldiers. Enough cookie airlifts to fill Candlestick Park. A pen pal network to mail greetings to service men and women. Army mothers encouraging everyone to fly their flags in honor of our young people so far from home. Yellow ribbons waving their bright, silent tribute from Maine to California, Washington State to Florida. I even heard of a group of women -- some of you've heard of it too, I'm sure -- who have formed a group called MASH: Mothers Against Saddam Hussein. [Laughter]

Once again, our people, the people of our country, have come together to show the world our finest strengths: American optimism, unity, unselfishness, the wonderful values of family, and the will to stand up for what's right and good -- strengths that form the very heart of America and that make possible the freedoms our brave service men and women are striving to defend.

And let's not forget one of these freedoms, approaching -- the right to vote, to choose our form of government. And I can't think of anything that better guarantees our own freedom than to exercise that privilege.

I know that every American looks forward to the day when our extraordinary young men and women will return home to a nation proud of its ideals of freedom, integrity, and honor; a nation committed to its tradition of preserving, protecting, and defending those precious beliefs which have always made America a beacon of hope and freedom to the entire world.

I want to thank you, once again, for your warm welcome and for the support that you're giving to the next Governor of this great State, Pete Wilson. God bless you and the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:35 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Millie, the First Family's dog; Katie Boyd, cohost of the dinner; Gene Trefethen, owner of Trefethen Winery; Ben Biaggini, cohost and master of ceremonies of the dinner; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Rev. John Bakas, director of the Valley Children's Hospital Foundation, who gave the invocation; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He also referred to Big Green, the environmental protection initiative on the November ballot in California. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Wilson in San Francisco, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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